The laughably named "Ethics & Transparency in Government" PAC has filed paperwork with the city after sending out mailers attacking Catherine Blakespear and the other incumbents. If you look at their city filing, they got money from gun owners (the San Diego Gun Owners PAC), developers (the BIA), and Streetscape opponents (Leah Bissonette and Robert Hemphill).
Their Form 496 with call-outs is below:
(Two lies do not add up to the truth)
When confronted with Saturday's Coast News article calling her out for making a false claim about her opponent (and violating the Clean Campaign Pledge), Julie Thunder's defense is another mis-statement, a second false claim that is easily disproved.
Thunder's first false claim is that Mayor Blakespear didn't denounce the derogatory language in an inflammatory email from a supporter.
From The Coast News:
"Encinitas mayoral candidate Julie Thunder took to social media on October 8, sharing a screenshot of a harassing email she received in which a resident called her a 'human pig.' In her Facebook post, Thunder went on to falsely accuse The Coast News employees and incumbent Mayor Catherine Blakespear of not denouncing the content or responding to the email’s author.
" 'Not one of the 18 people copied on that message spoke out against his vile words. Not one. Including the mayor. This is where we are Encinitas — and these are the disgusting politics that have been ruling over our City,' Thunder wrote.
"However, Thunder’s claims ignore previous conversations about the email between Thunder, Blakespear and reporters during a podcast segment recorded last month discussing The Coast News’ Clean Campaign Pledge initiative."
Julie Thunder recently made a public statement in the form of a Facebook post defending herself against The Coast News article. She said:
"Caitlin [the Coast News reporter] texted me later to say she also allowed Blakespear to re-record her response to include comments about the letter, which I never heard, because those words were cut from the podcast, I did not know that Blakespear supposedly denounced the email. What I do know is that the mayor stayed silent, and has continued to do so. Also, the other 16 people copied on the email still remain silent to this day."
The screenshot of her full statement is below:
This defense has become the party line for her surrogates as well.
Basically, Julie Thunder is claiming that she didn't know that Blakespear denounced the derogatory language in the email from her supporter because the relevant audio was "cut from the podcast".
This isn't true. The words were not "cut from the podcast".
There is a long segment in the podcast that went public on September 18 which specifically addresses this email. Julie and Catherine both speak about the email in the segment. When asked about the email - this was the *topic* of the segment - Catherine denounced the use of derogatory language that is insulting, offensive, and disrespectful.
To introduce Catherine's remarks, Caitlan said she "reached out to her for a response" (to the email, the topic of the segment). I belabor the point because of Thunder's defense.
Catherine said (about the email), “I don’t support anybody using derogatory terms that are insulting and offensive and disrespectful to the core person.It’s important that you recognize where people are coming from and when there are disparaging terms like that used, it’s basically just meant to demean and belittle them, so I don’t support that.”
Caitlin subsequently says "The mayor doesn't condone that" (just in case it wasn't clear).
What was actually cut from the podcast was a snippet of audio that seems redundant given what Catherine said earlier, but that the Thunder camp seems to have seized on because it includes a reference to the individual who sent the email. The additional statement from Blakespear is this: “There’s just no question about it, it is abusive. I receive emails from [him] all the time, some of them being positive about the work that’s been done but most of them negative about the city.”
But let's be clear: In the podcast that was posted to the public on September 18, the topic of the segment in question was the email from the Blakespear supporter and Catherine strongly denounced the derogatory language in the email with framing that also sent a very clear message to all supporters.
It is not true that the relevant audio was "cut from the podcast".
This defense amounts to making a false claim to defend a false claim.
Here's the podcast link. The relevant segment starts at about 12:50. Listen for yourself.
Julie Thunder has worked hard to hide her partisan affiliaton.
Prop. A and Housing
Catherine Blakespear: Protecting your right to vote while also complying with state housing laws. Supports an inclusive and diverse community. Advocates for granny flats to diversify housing options.
Julie Thunder: Thunder would lead us into expensive lawsuits, fines, and regulatory problems. No plan for state compliance. Falsely accuses city of suing residents, when our lawsuit is with the state. Vague promises about “working with other cities.”
Catherine Blakespear: Helped create our “gold-standard” climate action plan. Recognized as a regional environmental leader. Supports increased biking and walking, a new park, reducing plastic waste, planting trees, and many green initiatives.
Julie Thunder: Actively opposes biking and walking projects. Falsely claims city is in violation of water management requirements. Fails to address climate change as a threat.
Catherine Blakespear: Committed to preventing homelessness and helping those who need it. Actively working with regional partners and other cities. Identifies homelessness as a top concern.
Julie Thunder: Lots of complaining, but no actual ideas on how to reduce homelessness. Opposed to the 25-spot parking lot that provides a safe place to stay and a self-betterment program for neighbors experiencing homelessness.
Catherine Blakespear: Committed to maintaining Encinitas as a fiscally sound city. Always monitoring the city’s bottom line. Supports pre-paying pension debt.
Julie Thunder: Doesn’t address fiscal solvency. No stated position. Criticizes infrastructure projects for their cost and then suggests impractical, costlier alternatives.
Catherine Blakespear: Supports and invests in fire fighters, lifeguards and the sheriff’s department to keep Encinitas among the safest cities in the county. Crime down 32% since becoming mayor in 2016. Endorsed by Encinitas Firefighter’s Association.
Julie Thunder: Vague and unclear promises. False, fear-mongering accusations about rising crime and “unsafe” city facilities.
Catherine Blakespear: Supports a diverse and inclusive city. Recognizes housing policy, transportation networks and climate change as social justice issues.
Julie Thunder: States that “diverse and inclusive” are empty words. No stated social justice goals.
Catherine Blakespear: Believes in working with residents to proactively solve problems and enhance Encinitas. Jumps in and gets results, with substantial meaningful improvements delivered. Advocated and facilitated our Coastal Rail Trail.
Julie Thunder: The candidate of “no.” Opposes many major city improvements, but rarely offers real alternatives. Founded “No Rail Trail” to fight against the creation of the popular Coastal Rail Trail. Believes in waiting for other cities to act first when problems arise.
Catherine Blakespear: Practicing attorney, former news reporter. Four years as Encinitas mayor, two years on Encinitas City Council, and over three years as a member of the city’s Traffic & Safety Commission.
Julie Thunder: Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics, Secondary teaching credential. Founder of “No Rail Trail” group.
From Catherine Blakespear's website. Full article linked here.
Attacks on Julie Thunder for deceptively changing her voter registration from "Republican" to "No Party Preference" right before announcing for mayor are resonating with voters. A more complete picture of Julie's Republican partisan affiliation emerges when the registration change is seen in context with her list of Republican donors, her campaign treasurer's co-founding of a Trump-supporting "Build the Wall" PAC, her close ties to Republican D3 Supervisor Kristin Gaspar, past endorsements of consistently Republican candidates, and recent endorsements by right-wing leaders.
A number of Thunder supporters insist that partisan affiliation doesn't matter. Their arguments go something like this: The Mayor of Encinitas is technically a non-partisan office, so why not elect the best person for the job regardless of political party? Why do political parties and partisan affiliation even enter into the picture?
The truth is that over 75% of Encinitas residents care about the partisan affiliation of their mayor and City Council members. There are some good reasons why:
1. In a highly polarized time, partisan affiliation tells you something about a candidate's values and political philosophy, which will guide their decisions while in office. Some issues are simultaneously local, regional, and national. Values that underpin partisan affiliation also inform key decisions about whether and how to mitigate climate change, what guidance to follow in re-opening businesses in the pandemic, how to deal with homelessness, how to reduce inequality, promotion of racial justice, support for mask wearing, and many others.
2. Your local leaders consult with, are supported by, and are influenced by regional leaders that are organized into networks based on partisan affiliation. Local decisions about policy fit into a framework of regional policy that is often guided by partisan values and political philosophy. Elect Mayor Blakespear and you get a regional political network that includes Congressman Mike Levin, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, State Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath, and many other Democratic leaders. Elect Julie Thunder and she'll be consulting with Republican D3 Supervisor Kristin Gaspar and other regional Republican leaders.
3. Possibly most important of all, decisions you make about candidates for local offices have a profound effect on what happens later at the regional and even national level. Your local government is the entry point for candidates that will in many cases go on to higher office. Their service in our city becomes a key qualification for their next rung on the ladder. Your local candidates may go on to become governors, senators, members of Congress, state legislators, big city mayors, and the members of the Board of Supervisors.
Just to cite two specific examples for the third point above: If you elect Kristin Gaspar as a seemingly moderate Republican Encinitas Mayor in 2014, a few years later you have Kristin Gaspar, Republican District 3 Supervisor - and then hard-right Republican congressional candidate for the 49th district in 2018. Elect Tasha Boerner Horvath to City Council and a few years later you have a Democratic shut-out in the 76th district of the State Assembly (and Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath).
If you care about partisan affiliation regionally and nationally, you must pay attention locally. Elections have consequences that extend far beyond the term of office that you're voting for... and the immediate issues that may be driving campaigns.
So yes, partisan affiliation matters. Encinitas does not exist in a vacuum. Your candidates are not isolated from the tidal forces that are driving regional and national politics. Your decisions have ripple effects that will influence regional policy and decide who ascends to future regional, state, and even national offices.
Julie Thunder and Susan Turney have talked about their housing "plan" in debates, Zoom forums, Facebook posts, and emails. They have a miraculous prescription for Encinitas that will solve the most challenging issue facing our city.
It's also pure fantasy. If they actually do try to implement their radical ideas, Encinitas would quickly go out of compliance with state law and would be sued right and left.
As taxpayers, we would have to cough up many millions of dollars in legal fees fighting lawsuits that we'd inevitably lose. And even worse, while we're tangled up in litigation, the city will forego state grant money which we rely on to build improvements like pedestrian rail crossings.
Don't buy the magical thinking and easy answers. Julie Thunder and Susan Turney do NOT have a realistic housing plan. All they have is a recipe for lawsuits and legal fees.
Here's an explanation of their plan and why it's doomed.
Thunder and Turney say they can manifest a state-compliant housing plan that can survive a Prop A vote, which is the hat trick that has eluded the city for many years.
How would they do it? Simple. They would just increase the percentage of affordable housing mandated for each new housing project, which reduces the total number of housing units Encinitas is required to build under state law.
Voila! Wave a magic wand and the current 15% requirement becomes 25%. At 25%, Encinitas only needs to build 3,352 units of new housing over eight years instead of 5,587.
See, it's easy! Which begs the question: Why stop there? Why not mandate 30%? Or even 40%? At 40%, we don't have to build much new housing at all! Only 2,095 new housing units over eight years! Yay!
Actually, why don't we just make those nasty developers build 100% affordable housing? That way the city only needs to build 838 new housing units over eight years. We can minimize the population and traffic increases from new housing and keep things just like they are now.
In fact, Susan Turney wants to exclude developers from the planning process so they don't even have a voice in the proceedings. If they're not in the room, we can just make them eat the requirements for affordable housing and that's that.
You've probably figured out by now that the solution isn't this easy. There are two huge problems with this approach.
First of all, those much-maligned developers are usually just property owners. And property owners subject to the affordable housing mandate are essentially paying a form of tax to build housing. At some point it stops making sense for them to build anything on their land. An overly aggressive affordable housing mandate becomes a taking of their land by the city. But well before that point, the property owners are going to revolt.
Any Thunder-Turney housing plan with a high percentage of affordable housing will run into a buzz saw of opposition from property owners. They'll organize and spend money to defeat such a plan at the ballot box. When the Thunder-Turney plan comes up for a Prop A vote, there will be a flood of ads, signs, and mailers.
If the property owners weren't even consulted in the development of the plan - as Susan Turney proposes - then the level of opposition will be off the charts. And if all that isn't bad enough, the angry hornets nest of property owners will have plenty of allies in their battle against the offending housing plan. Which brings us to the second problem with the fantasy Thunder-Turney plan.
Most properties targeted for upzoning with high percentages of affordable housing are surrounded by neighbors. And those neighbors are often fiercely opposed to high density housing being built nearby. They don't want the added traffic and crowds. They don't want the character of their community to change. And they don't want their property values depressed by all that affordable housing. The word "density" is thrown around like a curse-word in the debate about Encinitas housing, but any increase in affordable housing percentages is going to result in more density for the parcels that are up-zoned.
Entire neighborhoods will organize and fight any housing plan with high affordable housing mandates. In any plan, some parcels have to be up-zoned somewhere - and in a Thunder-Turney plan, the resulting controversy will be acute. Neighbors will make common cause with property owners. The resulting coalition will be well organized, very well funded, sympathetic (to other voters), and very angry.
Who is supporting the Thunder-Turney plan against the mobs with the pitchforks and torches? Well, there's no natural constituency in favor of a housing plan. So likely nobody.
What is Susan Turney's well-thought out approach to dealing with the tidal wave of opposition that will roll over any plan incorporating these higher percentages of affordable housing? There isn't one. She basically assumes that residents will just pass her unrealistic plan.
How about Julie Thunder? Does she have any ideas for how to untangle this ugly dynamic that will pit residents against each other? Nope. She's silent on this point.
We've already seen what happens to housing plans that are opposed by motivated special interest groups and supported by nobody. That's pretty much the story of Measure T in 2016 and Measure U in 2018. Those housing plans were unpopular compromises that pleased no-one and were fought by several special interest groups. They failed at the ballot box.
Any Thunder-Turney plan with a high percentage of affordable housing will be destroyed at the ballot box. And that will happen again and again, which means that the city will be out of compliance with state law... and we'll be sued. We'll pay millions of dollars in legal fees. We'll lose out on grants. We'll ultimately inevitably lose the lawsuits and the state will dictate our housing plan.
Some people have insisted that we offer up city property like parcel L-7 to solve the first of the two problems mentioned above (property owner opposition). However, there is only so much city property. And even the parcels that we have don't solve the problem with energized neighbors and communities. In a perfect example of the neighborhood dynamic described above, parcel L-7 was proposed for Measure U and then removed because of a storm of opposition from neighbors who showed up to the City Council en masse and threatened to organize and defeat Measure U and then work to push the Council out of office.
The good news is that T and U didn't lose by much. So there is hope that we can still find a balance of all interests - with everyone at the table. We got close the last two times. Let's keep trying to work towards a plan that can pass a Prop A vote and serve all interests. And let's lean into smart, experienced, and pragmatic leadership while we solve this very complex problem.
Mayor Blakespear and the current Council are best positioned to finally untangle this knot for us.
TWO FINAL NOTES
First, Julie Thunder and Susan Turney are using fake statistics to support their unrealistic proposals.
Thunder and Turney keep quoting examples of high affordable housing requirements for other cities around California to give support to the idea that their radical approach to disenfranchising property owners can actually work. However, they're quoting fake statistics.
For example, they cite Los Gatos as having a 50% affordable housing requirement - which is just wildly wrong. Los Gatos has a sliding scale from 10% to 20% depending on project size... and averages out to a weighted 15% or so, which is what Encinitas is working towards in its current plans.
Their other examples include Capitola, cited at 25%. In reality, Capitola has a sliding scale from 0 to 15%.
Second, Thunder and Turney both continue to make the absurd claim that Encinitas sued its residents in connection with the Prop A litigation, which is also wildly misleading. It's just crazy to keep making that claim. Several weeks ago we offered $1,000 to any legitimate charity in the name of the first Encinitas resident who can prove they were sued by the city. We got no takers.
We're upping the charitable contribution to $2,500 for the first resident who can show they were named or served in connection with the supposed Prop A lawsuit against residents. We're confident there will be no takers this time either.
Thunder and Turney don't hesitate to cite fake statistics and make false claims. Why would you believe they can solve the most complex land use problem facing Encinitas? Actually, they can't. All they'll do is keep us in lawsuit hell.
Re-elect Mayor Catherine Blakespear, Council member Kellie Hinze, and Council member Tony Kranz.
A Coast News commentary makes it clear that Julie Thunder won't answer simple questions about her positions on key issues - because she is trying to have it both ways:
"Thunder struggled and resisted answering basic policy questions because she understands that one answer aligns with her minority base, and the other answer aligns with Mayor Blakespear and most Encinitas voters.
"On issue after issue–from safe storage of firearms ordinance (Blakespear voted yes), to climate mitigation efforts (Blakespear voted yes), to investing in improvements along the Leucadia 101 corridor (Blakespear voted yes), to concrete armoring of our natural beach bluffs (Thunder supports SB1090’s concrete seawalls)–on so many issues, core supporters of Julie Thunder generally line up one way, while most Encinitas voters generally come down on the other side.
"In order to win the election, candidate Thunder must convince people with heartfelt disagreements on both sides of important local policy matters to think she’s 'on their side.'
"Ultimately, she needs many of us to vote against our own policy preferences because we are confused about what the candidate really stands for. Being on everyone’s side sounds nice, but ultimately, it’s about confusion and misdirection.
"Is it a winning strategy? That is up to you."